Hollywood Professional Alliance Tech Retreat

I have just returned from the Hollywood Professional Alliance (HPA) Tech Retreat in Palm Springs. This annual event gathers film and television professionals not only from Hollywood but also across the country and the globe.

HPA used to stand for Hollywood Post Alliance but as post workflows delve into the entire content creation process, it made sense to change the name. The retreat has grown into about a week of presentations and conversations about creating content in the media and entertainment industry.

I go there to find out what is on the forefront of technology and learn about how the big studios have it all figure out. Okay, they really don’t, but they are working on it.

The week started with a pre-session exploring artificial intelligence (AI). It helped define what is AI and what is just machine learning. One demonstration showed creating metadata using facial and voice recognition so it could automatically log a clip based on who is on camera. Other demos included finding logos in scenes for trademark issues.

Another demonstration showed automatic rough cuts, which at first looked a little scary, but showed how you could quickly get a rough cut to see if you had coverage on a scene. You could define algorithms that would make it so the actor speaking was always on camera or one character is more important than the other. And you could tell it to remove any jump cuts.

After the pre-session was a Supersession on workflows. And this is why I say even the studios haven’t it figured it all out. There isn’t a single workflow to rule them all. Because every project is different – the supersession title uses the term “snowflakes” because no two are alike. Case studies were presented on both scripted and live production.

One topic that appeared throughout the retreat was the ACES workflow. The Academy Color Encoding System is color (and image) management system that is designed to work from capture to output and seems to be gaining traction in the industry. More info on http://www.oscars.org/science-technology/sci-tech-projects/aces and http://acescentral.com.

Next time, the actual retreat sessions and some real surprises.